Saturday 1 October 2016

'Greed' at the heart of Denis Bastick's decision to play on with Dublin

Dublin midfielder driven to extend Indian summer by lure of more glory

Published 19/04/2016 | 02:30

Dublin's Denis Bastick. Photo: Sportsfile
Dublin's Denis Bastick. Photo: Sportsfile
Kerry's Bryan Sheehan. Photo: Sportsfile

On the morning after last year's All-Ireland football final triumph over Kerry, Denis Bastick sat in the foyer of the Gibson Hotel with the look of a man sated by what he had achieved.

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Three All-Ireland medals all won in his 30s - something only team-mate Stephen Cluxton and Tony Hanahoe and Paddy Cullen had achieved in blue previously - could only mean choosing a date to confirm departure, couldn't it?

For a man who had only made his inter-county debut in 2009 as a 28-year-old and got so much out of his time after that, could there possibly be a better way to bow out? What could bring him back?

"Greed" was the answer he provided at yesterday's Allianz League finals preview in Croke Park.

"Why does any sportsperson, why do Kilkenny stay coming back and winning?" he asked in response.

"It doesn't get any less appealing to win an All-Ireland. That hunger - that's always there. That stays there. there is no doubt that that.

"Maybe it was the right time, starting an All-Ireland final and winning, to step away.

"Maybe that was the right time to go but for me at the moment I'm enjoying playing football, I'm enjoying playing on the team. Being involved in that group. It's a special place. It's a great place to be."

The decision was "huge," he accepted, acknowledging even now that he isn't sure if it was the right one.

"Time will tell whether it's the right one overall. Obviously I sat down with the family, had discussions, sat down with Jim (Gavin) and made up my mind that we're in a lucky position, that we have a chance to do something special and compete at the top end of the Championship so in that sense it was difficult to step away."

Compressed

His more compressed time as an inter-county footballer was also a factor, by comparison to his contemporary Alan Brogan.

"He (Alan) was playing minor and under-21 football whereas my Championship debut was at 28 and I won my first All-Ireland at 30. It's different for me, my career was later on but it doesn't make it any easier."

It was firmly his own decision to return, he revealed, and his availability for the very first game of the season, against Wexford in the O'Byrne Cup just a couple of days into January, was strategically designed.

"That was important for me. I knew from previous years that it wasn't a case where I could rock up later in the year and expect to fit back in.

"I needed to be training and get fit early and get that momentum going and improve all along so when the opportunity comes up, you don't turn down the chance to play with Dublin and pull on the jersey.

"I didn't want to leave a gap and try and play catch-up which is a lot more difficult than going in from the start."

Bastick's starts for Dublin during the League so far have followed a particular pattern as he makes way at some stage in the third quarter.

If his role is in impact he'll accept it without compromising the decision to come back.

"I had to weigh up what was right. For me it was a case of, 'do I have something to contribute to the team?'

"That was the biggest question for me. Can I add something?

"I felt I could and that's why I'm still here," said Bastick, who is 35 next month.

"If I can come on and make a contribution and win a game, then that's the part I'm going to play in that team.

"I could be happy or comfortable with the idea that I've contributed to the team winning and doing well. So it's not a case that I have to start all the time for me to be happy.

Contributed

"Obviously every player on the team wants to do that and not everybody can. But I'm going to be happy if I can look back at the end of this and say I've contributed or I've done well."

Bastick admits that a 21-match unbeaten streak between League and championship is a "great stat" to have but points to flaws in that sequence too.

"If you look at it more clearly, it sounds fantastic okay. But we went to Longford in January (O'Byrne Cup) and were beaten down there. That was disappointing for us.

"If you look at some of our league games, we beat Monaghan by a late point at Croke Park, Roscommon had a free to level that game too so while we are unbeaten, some of our performances have not been up to a level that we would expect from ourselves.

"It is a great stat to have and can that stay going? Who knows?

"But really it's just about looking forward to Sunday and trying to get over that. It would be nice to continue it on," he conceded.

The Templeogue/Synge St man is reluctant to buy the line that Dublin have this Kerry team where they want them after three successive Croke Park Championship wins.

"It's not like that at all. It's nice to have won those games. And in 2009, you'd have said that you couldn't foresee that happening because of the position we found ourselves in.

"But the bit of hurt is still there from that. That's still there.

"No matter how many times we were to beat Kerry, you still remember those defeats. And I'm sure they remember the ones we've inflicted on them."

Irish Independent

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